Rochester & Strood

2015 Result:
Conservative: 23142 (44.1%)
Labour: 10396 (19.8%)
Lib Dem: 1251 (2.4%)
Green: 1516 (2.9%)
UKIP: 16009 (30.5%)
TUSC: 202 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 7133 (13.6%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Kent. Part of the Medway council area.

Main population centres: Rochester, Strood, Grain, Hoo St Werburgh, Halling.

Profile: A largely industrial seat in the conurbation of Medway in Kent. Rochester and Strood is geographically the largest of the Medway seats, taking in not just Rochester and Strood themselves but also the expanse of the Hoo peninsula between the estuaries of the Thames and Medway. The peninsula and the Isle of Grain are largely marshland, an important site for wild birds, and are often cited as possible locations for a Thames Estuary airport. The south of the peninsula is industrial, and includes a major container port, a gas import plant and two power stations. The urban part of the seat is the western part of Medway, with Strood to the west of the river and Rochester to the east. Rochester is a historic city of strategic importance on the Medway (hence the presence of Rochester Castle and various Napoleonic Forts built to protect Chatham dockyard), it is also the second oldest Bishopric in England. As is the case across North Kent there is significant redevelopment in progress, with thousands of new houses being planned along the river medway waterfront. The village of Borstal in the West of Rochester was the site of the original borstal and still hosts HMP Rochester. The constituency also stretches south to take in Cuxton and Halling, a former chalk mining village that is now largely a commuter area.


Current MP
KELLY TOLHURST (Conservative) Former businesswoman and marine surveyor. Medway councillor since 2011. Contested Rochester and Strood by-election 2014. First elected as MP for Rochester & Strood in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 23604 (49%)
Lab: 13651 (28%)
LDem: 7800 (16%)
GRN: 734 (2%)
Oth: 2182 (5%)
MAJ: 9953 (21%)
Con: 17120 (42%)
Lab: 17333 (42%)
LDem: 5152 (13%)
UKIP: 1488 (4%)
MAJ: 213 (1%)
Con: 15134 (39%)
Lab: 18914 (49%)
LDem: 3604 (9%)
UKIP: 958 (2%)
MAJ: 3780 (10%)
Con: 16504 (37%)
Lab: 21858 (49%)
LDem: 4555 (10%)
Oth: 405 (1%)
MAJ: 5354 (12%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Medway

2015 Candidates
KELLY TOLHURST (Conservative) Businesswoman and marine surveyor. Medway councillor since 2011. Contested Rochester and Strood by-election 2014.
NAUSHABAH KHAN (Labour) Educated at Fort Pitt Grammar and Birmingham University. PR consultant.
PRUE BRAY (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Manchester University. Wokingham councillor since 2000. Contested Wokingham 2005, 2010.
MARK RECKLESS (UKIP) Born 1970. Educated at Oxford University. Barrister and banker. Medway councillor 2007-2011. Contested Medway 2001, 2005. MP for Rochester and Strood 2010 to 2015. Defected to UKIP in 2014 and won the subsequent by-election.
CLIVE GREGORY (Green) Musician and sound engineer. Rochester and Strood by-election 2014.
Comments - 728 Responses on “Rochester & Strood”
  1. Nonsense. UKIP will win here I know they will.

  2. ”The party who will win a seat is (NORMALLY) the party that sufficient number of voters believe they will be financially better off under, in government. And it probably applies in Rochester /S”

    LOL now that is the funniest joke I have heard all day! You have to be kidding right? Ha ha!

  3. And Deepthroat, IIRC, you consistently said from the word go that the Tories were going to hold Rochester and Strood at the by-election- you were wrong. I suspect you could well be wrong again!

  4. “… that is the funniest joke I have heard all day! You have to be kidding right? Ha ha!.”

    TR – you seem to LOL at things most people would not LOL upon hearing. what’s funny about it?

    And BTW although I initially predicted a CON hold in the BE – I quickly revised my opinion down to a UKIP gain and got the margin of win very close – unlike yourself, who said:
    “…My final byelection prediction is-
    Reckless (UKIP)- 47%
    Tory- 28%
    Labour- 18%
    Green- 3%
    Britain First- 1.5%..”

    Really poor – especially the BF prediction.

  5. Yes but you changed your mind I stayed true to my position all the way through, you pretty much switched to UKIP gain last minute.

  6. And anyway I wasn’t the only one who got it wrong.

  7. TR – This is rather mean spirited of you – I altered my view from a very narrow CON hold to a UKIP gain immediately after viewing the ASHCROFT poll release in mid October – 4 to 5 weeks before the BE date. I was then amongst only three posters who predicted a lower than 8% margin of win for Reckless.

  8. Didn’t mean to be horrible sorry. Don’t forget if I am wrong all credit to you for being right I’ve argued my corner you’ve argued yours.

  9. OK but I would still like to know why this is so hilarious:

    DEEPTHROAT: “The party who will win a seat is (NORMALLY) the party that sufficient number of voters believe they will be financially better off under, in government. And it probably applies in Rochester”

    TR: “LOL now that is the funniest joke I have heard all day! You have to be kidding right? Ha ha!”

  10. Was just being a bit sarcastic at the time.

  11. “UKIP will win here I know they will”.

    That’s settled then. No one can compete with that kind of insightful, erudite analysis.

  12. The truth is we can’t be sure until we have a poll. There’s speculation that the Tories are not seriously targetting the seat, but I have to say I’m rather sceptical about that. Logically the relatively small size of Reckless’s majority suggests that it will be close so I find TheResults’s certainty rather puzzling.

  13. Went a bit mad last night I’m afraid. After all that I do hope I’m wrong.

  14. Appreciate BTW everything that Kieran, DeepThroat and Barnaby have said.

  15. Just to keep the ball rolling (!), I thought it might be interesting to see if there was evidence of Reckless having achieved any personal vote in Medway / Rochester.

    So I have looked at the increase in Conservative votes in the North Kent marginals from 1997 to 2010. I have adjusted these to account the boundary changes after 2005 (only of any significance for Chatham – negative – and Medway/Rochester – positive). All figures are from the Nuffield General Election books.

    Dartford +8.4%
    Gravesham +9.7%
    Chatham +10.2%
    Gillingham +10.3%
    Medway/Rochester +11.4%
    Sittingbourne +13.5%

    The average for the change in these seats is +10.6% so Reckless achieved just under 1% above the average, and this may reflect a small personal vote. But nothing outstanding.

  16. What is interesting to note is that in 2010, Reckless enjoyed a larger majority over Labour than Dame Peggy Fenner did in 1992. Perhaps Reckless does have something of a personal vote? Or maybe the demographics of the seat have changed in favour of the Tories?

  17. Sounds like a bit of both. The Labour vote share was a lot lower than the 1992 result in Medway as well. The Lib Dems were a lot higher last time here as well. Without the English Democrats standing last time, I suspect Reckless would have cleared 50% easily.

  18. It is quite an interesting seat though…I think it could go either way, though I wouldn’t underestimate Reckless…he got quite a decent swing in 2005, and the 2015 general will be his 5 election in the seat.

    but of course we won’t know till the day after, so to speak.

  19. Agreed. It is an interesting seat. It’s nice to know BTW James that I’m not the only one not underestimating Reckless here- He has been here a very long time one way or another. He might in fact have more of a personal vote than many actually realised here.

  20. results,

    I have pointed out that there was a gadarene rush to assign rochester to the conservatives after the by-election…I just didn’t buy it…

    there’s generally a euphoria about the tories’ chances at the moment which is totally belied by current polling. just seen betfair have tories on 1.64 to be the largest party… not even the models with swingback, electionforecast etc., justify such tight odds.

    but the market is blithely confident…

  21. Perhaps you’re forgetting the ability and power of the Government (Conservative party) to dictate the agenda and hand out cash give aways…We have already seen a few in the past 3 weeks.

    Plus Cameron is a smooth operator who’s not going to be examined and exploitated by the Press in the way Miliband will be.

  22. Perhaps you’re forgetting the ability and power of the Government (Conservative party) to dictate the agenda and hand out cash give aways…We have already seen a few in the past 3 weeks.

    We had the 2014 budget and the 2014 autumn statement which were written up as “blinders” and “game changers”…net effect on tory vi was zero.

    The gimmicks won’t work.

    I agree Cameron looks and sounds miles better than mili, but labour are still ahead.

    The tories’ friends are the party’s worst enemies. so complacent and arrogant!

  23. Depends how well the Tories do on polling day. Usually if a party does well they will hoover up all their by election loses but if the do badly they won’t.

    Labour did extremely well in Scotland in 2010 and recovered Glasgow East by over 11000 whereas they only recovered Glasgow Govan by 4000 in 1992 (despite a 19500 majority in 1987). I don’t think that if Glasgow East had occurred in this parliament that Labour would be on course to win it back by that margin…if at all.

  24. BBCQT from Telford. The panel includes Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps MP, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves MP, Liberal Democrat Tessa Munt MP, UKIP’s Mark Reckless MP.

  25. Couldn’t the BBC find people with more Shropshire connections?

  26. Interesting article that I hadn’t previously come across about why this seat is such fertile territory for UKIP:

  27. Fascinating article which basically saying this seat has a lot UKIP support because significant numbers here are xenophobic and feel disconnected from neighbours and their neighbourhood. It’s good UKIP turf, we get that.

    Question is will enough of them vote UKIP for them to triumph? It fails to reflect on what the approx 12,000 non voters from the BE were likely to vote in the GE and also fails to factor in tactical voting (LAB/LD to CON).

  28. this will be a ukip hold…the tories’ are always overhyped. they are heading for defeat, to the extent that dave’s chances of being PM in 6 months’ time are abt. 20% at best, in my book.

  29. A bit short-termist to say the Tories are always overhyped. In 2005 and 2010 they certainly were (not to detract from their progress over those elections from 2001). But the same including the brackets goes for the Lib Dems in the Blair landslides, or Labour in 1992. And there are numerous postwar examples of other times where all three traditional Westminster parties were hyped but didn’t make significant gains, as well as false dawns for nationalist and smaller UK-wide parties at various times.

    On the contrary, I think so far this election’s hype surrounding the UK-wide parties has been surprisingly sane. By and large, the big parties recognise that it looks extremely close. The Lib Dems recognise that their share will take a big hit and that however disproportionate FPTP is there will be some sort of correlation between the size of that drop and their seat count. UKIP will certainly take seats (plural, though this one is far from in the bag). While predictions about UKIP’s seat count in June vary drastically there is a recognition that even if they have an incredible election they will only have a small fraction of the number of MPs that the second largest party takes.

    There is extraordinary hype in Scotland, though given Indyref and polling trends over a period of months that isn’t without justification.

  30. Conservative Gain

  31. “Fascinating article which basically saying this seat has a lot UKIP support because significant numbers here are xenophobic and feel disconnected from neighbours and their neighbourhood”.

    I don’t think it quite says Ukippers are xenophobic. What it does suggest is that the factors that lead people to vote UKIP are pretty fixed. The grievances highlighted are unlikely to be satisfied by a government of any complexion, even a hypothetical UKIP one. It shows that UKIP has a core vote that is unlikely to be won over by any of the other parties any time soon. Were UKIP to disappear tomorrow a large chunk of their support would likely become non voters, as many of them were before UKIP came along.

    The fact that over third of UKIP’s vote is made up of erstwhile non voters provides a ray of hope for the party’s opponents, and should be enough to keep the Tories interested here despite the recent bad poll. History shows past non voters are often habitual non voters, and consequently cannot be relied upon.

  32. I don’t think we’ve seen ‘election hype’ moving into overdrive yet, except perhaps (as Chris H says) in Scotland which hasn’t yet cooled down from last autumn’s referendum.

    I know that this is not 1979 or 1992, but do not underestimate the ability of the media – particularly the newspapers – to move into an unhinged, screaming, insane cacophony of propaganda in the last three or four weeks of a campaign, particularly if Labour maintains its narrow lead.

  33. The LD candidate is Prue Bray, not Geoff Juby.

  34. Welcome news for the much maligned Tolhurst – the professors at seem to have made their mind up here.

    I suppose Farage’s performance today in the 7 way debate, might change their opinion – here and elsewhere.

    CON 46%

  35. UKIP third with 21%? Not sure about that.

  36. UKIP getting 21% or worse on May 7th is about as likely as me driving up to a Highlands seat on May 6th to campaign for the SNP.

  37. Ok admittedly I do think Reckless could well lose here now, but for him to do as badly as above, slumping to third place and completely collapsing would be extraordinary- I still think it has the potential to be very close here either way between Reckless and Tolhurst, but given UKIP’s recent struggles nationally I would say it looks like the Tories’ to lose at this stage, but I still wouldn’t be shocked if Reckless pulled this off, perhaps on the back of a personal vote and ever increasing activity locally.

  38. It’ll be interesting to see how and where the labour vote goes. I met many who were tactically voting ukip and some Tory on the doorstep.

    Will there be a return back to labour or will their vote crumble as it is now obvious that they cannot win.

  39. electionforecast is plain wrong. with predictions like this, it’s nigh on impossible to take them seriously.

  40. That’s an interesting thought actually. They were second in 2010, but that now seems light years ago for this seat, there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then. I fear for Labour’s vote share potential here in all honesty, a lot will stay with Reckless to keep out Tolhurst I suspect as you say Joe. In fact, I would even go as far as saying that they’ll struggle to clear 20% here, but longterm they might recover if UKIP begin to fade away.

  41. Pru Bray represents the Winnersh ward on Wokingham council. She seem fairly popular within her ward, holding onto it with some ease but was unable to make much progress as a parliamentary candidate in 2005/10. I guess she is a purely “paper candidate” : I’m unaware that she has any links with Rochester.

  42. My, my. A few weeks is a time in politics:

    February 20th, 2015 : THERESULTS:
    “I repeat, Reckless WILL win this seat again, contrary to what all the naysayers here and elsewhere have been saying…”

    THERESULTS: April 2nd 2015 : THERESULTS:
    “Ok admittedly I do think Reckless could well lose here now…”

  43. But I still think he can’t be ruled out completely, despite what I said above.

  44. Can’t be ruled out completely certainly, but this is never going to be easy for a relatively narrow by-election victor to hold.

    History has shown that time and again.

  45. No that’s true. But given how unpredictable the general election will be overall, we will definitely get some shock results, so who knows what could still happen here?


    Tolhurst claims Govt Growth Deal awarded to Rochester Airport – awarded two months ago – will create “hundreds of new jobs”.

  47. Very mixed predictions here. Whatever happens, it’ll be close here. If the Tories had a more effective candidate, I’d predicted they’d hold the seat.

  48. Another leaked internal UKIP poll, this one showing them losing here to the Cons.

    Does reveal a distinct lack of discipline in their ranks that they can’t keep a lid on these polls.

  49. Galloglass

    Any details? (%’s etc).

    After the fairly heated discussion earlier over whether Reckless would or would not survive, we want more info!

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